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Response 3: Reality & Quarry, Old Red Lion – Review

Pros: Identity and the self are touchingly portrayed by a cracking cast of fabulous actors.

Cons: The whole show felt a touch too long, especially in the baking hot Old Red Lion!

Pros: Identity and the self are touchingly portrayed by a cracking cast of fabulous actors. Cons: The whole show felt a touch too long, especially in the baking hot Old Red Lion! I had no idea what to expect upon entering the wonderful, but none too fancy Old Red Lion Theatre for Response 3: Reality & Quarry. The press release gave nothing away for the first three shorts, Reality, Tourmaline and Dry Feet, while Quarry was introduced with an amusing, yet bemusing, synopsis, along the lines that Gemma is afraid of becoming a Tinder-using sociopath and of rewarding herself with overpriced poached eggs on toast. What…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

An excellent selection of short solo pieces, wide-ranging in their topics yet delicately linked by subtle themes.

User Rating: 4.5 ( 1 votes)
I had no idea what to expect upon entering the wonderful, but none too fancy Old Red Lion Theatre for Response 3: Reality & Quarry. The press release gave nothing away for the first three shorts, Reality, Tourmaline and Dry Feet, while Quarry was introduced with an amusing, yet bemusing, synopsis, along the lines that Gemma is afraid of becoming a Tinder-using sociopath and of rewarding herself with overpriced poached eggs on toast. What followed, however, was a truly lovely collection of short plays, made even more touching by its slightly rough edges.

The show begins with Reality, featuring the absolutely charming Ellouise Shakespeare-Hart. She plays a high-school drama teacher, desperately trying to engage her multi-ethnic students with history that gives cause for celebration, instead of consistently focusing on tragedy. As her own sense of identity is unravelled by a cruel discovery, her attempts to strengthen communication between herself and a student become increasingly desperate. The second play, Tourmaline, shows two women battling to keep themselves together, both characters played by the inimitable Mia Lysandrou. Their lives are starkly different, yet both are struggling with the repressed emotions that shape their hidden reality. The third piece, Dry Feet, explores homelessness and how one’s identity is shaped through being invisible to the majority of passers-by. Faaiz Mbelizi is engaging and sincere as he presents the juxtaposition between his talent in fine art, and his having no possessions.

The highlight, though, is surely Quarry. Tiannah Viechweg plays the anxious, awkward Gemma with such a beautifully endearing charm that the audience were wrapped around her little finger from the start. The script is fresh, funny and current, featuring witty jibes at Virgin train prices and Donald Trump. There are plenty of hilarious scenes depicting a twenty-something struggling with her rubbish flatmate and job, and even more rubbish rah of a boyfriend. Although I didn’t love the finding of her voice finale, the piece is such a heartwarming exploration of character, the final scene is hardly the most important thing.

I did had a couple of qualms about the plays. The two stories in Tourmaline could have had a more evident link; were we watching the same woman and two alternative versions of her life, or was it two different characters within the same story, linked by their troubles? Dry Feet felt a little meandering at times, but that could be seen to be reflective of the oppressive wandering that comes of having no fixed abode. I also felt that lighting was only used to part of its full potential; a slightly more dramatic use of the spotlights wouldn’t have gone amiss. Still, the themes that are presented are so deep and painful, so responsibly and carefully dealt with, that RESPONSE 3 is captivating from the start. Grief, deceit, friendship, politics and race are all brought to life by writers, actors and producers clearly engaged and committed to bringing exhilarating, relatable theatre to London. Definitely worth a watch!

Authors and Directors: Lotte Ruth Johnson, Jacoba Williams, Katherine Hurley, Emma Louise Webb,
Rachel Smart
Producer: Blink Theatre
Booking Until: This play has now ended its run

About Louise Gill